I started out like many people in the “Attitude” era – as a fan. Professional wrestling was to me, the perfect mix of showmanship and athleticism. Fitting that I took what I learned in the squared circle and used it to help me be successful on stage. There is something to be said for being comfortable with a mic in your hand when you are used to being in front of thousands of people in spandex.
When I graduated high school and moved back to Pittsburgh, I found a television show late on Saturday night. The company was called Pro Wrestling eXpress, or PWX, and had a weekly broadcast that aired on the WB network. At this point, I had become known as a fairly successful internet wrestling columnist, writing for what turned out to be one of the largest wrestling websites in the world at the time. Scoops wrestling and The Bagpipe report were the birthplace of writers like me, Chris Hyatte, and the Flying Scotsman.
I decided to head down to check out a live PWX event at the “Wrestleplex” at the beautiful Eastland Mall. I introduced myself to the owner, and a couple of the workers were familiar with the websites, and my writing. It served as a good foot in the door to separate me from the local “marks” and gave me the opportunity to start learning the wrestling business. I asked if I could do anything to help out, and ended up as the ring announcer. Determined to learn as much as I could, I worked my way up to appearing on the weekly TV show – conducting interviews with the wrestlers, and helping to promote upcoming shows. An opening came in the commentary booth, and I took the chance to serve as play-by-play announcer.
At some point, they realized that I was 6’1, 235 and would probably make a great tackling dummy. I spent the better part of the next six months getting to train and learn with some of the best wrestlers in the area. Former WWF Tag Team Champion, “Headshrinker” Samu took me under his wing and gave me the opportunity to travel with him on the road. Getting the chance to be mentored by someone who had been in the ring with guys like Andre the Giant and Hulk Hogan was a tremendous opportunity for me, and I gladly took care of driving the wrestling legend around when the chance presented itself.
I made my wrestling debut in a loss against the venerable “El Guano #2” in June 1998 for Mason-Dixon Wrestling. Over a decade, I had the opportunity to work with some legends in the ring, and some great wrestling promotions. Every so often when my schedule allows, I still try to get out there and work a match now and again. It helps me keep perspective on where I am, where I’ve been, and what I’ve learned.